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26 February 2017 @ 09:16 pm

 Spring! It had been wet in Hanoi and
for the last few days it had been very foggy. No doubt that the
vegetation was so green and the flowers were everywhere! The singing
birds were more active in looking for food and partners. The whole world
seemed to be charged with new energy.

Business had been very busy recently and
I had not the time to prepare for any trips. There was no way that I
could get out of the office for a long holiday now. There were a quite a
few folks traveling in groups with Paradissa and it was necessary that I
had to double-check the services on Halong Bay. Besides, one of our
business partners had some new boats and we had better see them
ourselves. That was a good reason then, it'd make me feel less guilty
getting off from work for a couple of days. That was it, I'd be having a
great time tomorrow!

The driver came at 0800 A.M and we
arrived on Tuan Chau Island at 11:30 A.M. They had road construction
somewhere on the highway to Lang Son and we had to wait for a while.
Tuan Chau Island was much bigger now than a few years ago. It wouldn't
surprise me to find a big city here some time soon. They were still
reclaiming more land and a few more new buildings were being started...

Sun deck on a luxuy junk on Halong Bay

Sun deck on a luxuy junk on Halong Bay


It is the middle of the winter in Hanoi now, but so strange that the beautiful weather makes it more like beautiful autumn days. Everyday the sun sprinkles down precious golden particles that make the temperatures so pleasant! The breezes make the air dry and fresh, nothing of the normal cold winter winds. The whole world is definitely having the best moments of the year...

I wake up by my hot coffee late in the morning, looking down the window, casting my eyes further into the river with weird feelings. I don't feel as great as I should, especially in this kind of weather. My heart is not beating normally. Maybe it's been hectic work, or it's the beautiful weather, or it's serious lack of “travel oxygen” that my body has been addicted to. Who knows... I think I know. Something keeps pushing inside: it's high time to roam wild!

It takes me less than thirty minutes to get ready and off I jump on my motorbike and dash off leaving all the hustle bustle of the world behind... Leaving Hanoi, I take Road No.3 to Thai Nguyen which is as busy always and not much to keep my attention. My eyes are fixed on the road and my mind wanders in the mountains, the forests and the tranquil ethnic villages in Ba Be National Park...

More on Ba Be Adventure by Motorbike: Escape from Hectic Life

Mountains near Cho Chu Town, Dinh Hoa, Thai Nguyen
Mountains near Cho Chu Town, Dinh Hoa, Thai Nguyen

05 July 2013 @ 11:32 am
By Lang Thang.

Vietnam is endowed with over three thousand kilometers of coastline with numerous fine white sand beaches. Amazingly, most Vietnamese tourists and foreign travellers tend to spend their holidays at some popular spots only; while the majority of beaches in Vietnam including those with great luxury resorts and fresh seafood of dirt-cheap prices are left just empty. Recently, I got a trip through the stunning beaches in Vietnam and still don't know how those gems for beach holidays are just empty and not many travellers in sight...

Lang Co Beach - Hue - Vietnam
Lang Co Beach, Hue, Vietnam from the Hai Van Pass (The Pass of Ocean Clouds)

More on The Best Beaches in Vietnam
Current Location: Vietnam

Vietnam is getting more known as a popular tourist destination nowadays; travel to Vietnam is safe and fairly easy for the independent travelers as well as for those in group travel. For those who make their Vietnam holidays with a big family or with kids, then it is necessary to have good trip planning before departure...

Hang Mua - Ninh Binh
Hang Mua - Ninh Binh

For every detail of a family vacation, then a local travel agent or tour operator in Vietnam would surely be able to help you out; in this article, I will only make a recommendation of an attraction that your family may benefit more on your tour through the country. The gem I wanted to tell you more about here is Ninh Binh Province, a backwater separated from the hustle and bustle of urban life by stretches of limestone mountains, by vast stretches of rice paddies, by series of ponds and lakes and rivers... This sounds like a far-flung place in Vietnam, but it is only a 2-hour drive from Hanoi. Definitely, there are more compelling reasons than just the convenient location, that your family should travel to this backwater... Ready more on Ninh Binh Vietnam Holidays

Current Location: Vietnam

24November2011, Xoan Singing of Phu Tho Province of Vietnam
was inscribed by the UNESCO to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity which is in need of urgent Safeguarding.  The inscription
was made at the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee
Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, which is to take
place in Bali (Indonesia) from 22November2011 to 29November2011.

Hat Xoan in Phu Tho Vietnam

As defined by the Intergovernmental Committee, the Intangible
Cultural Heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited
from one generation to the next, such as oral traditions, performing
arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices
concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills required
to produce traditional crafts.

At the current session, seventy nine intangible heritage dossiers are
to be examined, which include: 18 for inscription on the List of
Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding; 39 for
inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Humanity; 12 proposals of programmes for the Register of
Best Safeguarding Practices; 4 for financial assistance; and 6 periodic
reports on the implementation of the Convention.

Hat Xoan in Phu Tho Vietnam

Xoan singing (or Hat Xoan in Vietnamese) is practiced in the first
two months of lunar year in Phu Tho Province, Vietnam. It is a kind of
performing art relating to rituals and beliefs. Besides the function of
singing for worshiping Hùng Kings, Xoan Singing also expresses dreams
about happiness and prays for good crops, good health and luck, etc. 
Xoan Folk Artists are organized into different music guilds known as
Phường. Each music guild is headed by a leader, who is referred to as
trùm. Male instrumentalists are called kép and female singers are called
đào. There are three phrases in Xoan singing procedure: worship singing
and ritual singing performed by Xoan guilds and festive singing
including the participation of villagers in love-exchange singing. Xoan
singing is accompanied by dancing and musical instrument. Up to now,
teaching and learning Xoan singing have based on oral transmission. Xoan
singing used to be in danger of suffering loss but for recent twenty
years, it has been gradually restored according to the wish and active
participation of Xoan bearers in Phú Thọ province.

Hat Xoan Phu Tho Vietnam

Xoan Singing of Phu Tho Province presently includes: Four original
Xoan guilds in An Thái, Thét, Phù Đức, and Kim Đái in Phượng Lâu and Kim
Đức communes, 80 kilometers north-west of Hanoi. Three Xoan teams
established in 2006: one in Lâm Thao town, one in Tiên Du commune and
one in Phù Ninh commune, Phú Thọ province. Twelve Xoan clubs have been
established since 2010 with 298 practitioners from various districts,
communes and town of Phú Thọ province.

By far, the Cultural Intangible Heritage of Humanity from Vietnam includes: the Royal Music of Hue, the Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands, Ca Tru Singing in the northern provinces, Quan Ho Folk Songs of Bac Ninh Province, Xoan Singing of Phu Tho Province.

Current Location: Vietnam
23 November 2011 @ 08:35 pm

Halong Bay Vietnam was named among the Provisional New Seven Wonders of Nature after the
first count of vote results on 11/11/11 by the New7Wonders
Foundation.The bay stretches in an area of 1553 square kilometers in the

Sailing on Halong Bay Vietnam

north-east of Vietnam, 165km from Hanoi. Halong Bay includes 1,969
rocky islands and islets jutting out of the emerald water of the East
Vietnam Sea.

The others on the provisional list are the Amazon rain-forest
(stretching over nine countries' territories: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia,
Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela), Argentina's
Iguazu Falls, South Korea's Jeju Island, Indonesia's Komodo, the
Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River and South Africa's Table

We followed Road No. 32 from Hanoi to Phu Tho and Yen Bai Province via Road No. 32. The road was in excellent conditions and traveling on the road had never been such easy. After passing Trung Ha Bridge linking the former Ha Tay Province and Phu Tho Province, we took the route along the Red River to Yen Bai. The scenery along the river was so spectacular with orchards of bananas, papayas...Local farmers set up stalls all along the road to sell seasonal fruits to passers-by...
Phu Tho is basically part of the Red River Delta and the scenery is similar to other areas near Ha Noi: vast green paddy fields dotted with white conical hats. We didn't stop much for photos as we wanted to save time for Yen Bai. As we traveled closer to Yen Bai, the scene changed quickly. The roads amid villages and paddy fields turned out to be traveling through low-hill areas flanked by thin forests. There were narrow valleys of rice paddies and palm forests alternated by eucalyptus forests. There was lots of logging going on in the area. They were planted forests after all and they needed materials for the paper factories somewhere I guessed. Still there was a weird feeling about logging in me: I was wondering how the government could administer the logging efficiently then?
Stunning rice field and mountains at Van Chan Yen Bai
Idyllic landscape at Van Chan Yen Bai in late afternoon

After brief lunch at Cat Lem Town of Doan Hung District, the road branched out and we took the one to Yen Bai. I felt sleepy on the road which seemed to me in great shape. There road system in Vietnam has been improved a lot in the last 10 years. It's just a good thing for developing the economy and it's great for travelers to come and see the country. Many communities are benefiting from this...
When we had passed Yen Bai City the road was more uphill and we found hills covered with green tea terraces all along the way. There were not many villages along the road. I felt a bit cool and was awaken...We stopped and got out of the car for stretching our legs. It was so quiet and fresh outside. The road had hardly any traffic on it for most of our journey from Yen Bai to Nghia Lo. The gradients were steep sometimes, but all were in good conditions and the driver found no difficulties navigating the way.


Rice field at Nghia Lo Yen Bai
Rice field at Nghia Lo Town, Yen Bai
We entered Van Chan District in late afternoon and the road started to get flat. There were more tea plantations and tea factories along the way. There were more communities in the area, so there were more economic activities here. Basically people of Yen Bai earn their money from the forests, from the tea plantations and the tea factories. There are a few tea factories that provide quite famous tea brands in Vietnam which are based here.
After passing 5-7km of tea-covered low hills, we traveled further into the central area of Muong Lo Valley, the second biggest flat valley in the North West of Vietnam (after Muong Thanh Valley of Dien Bien Phu). Before entering Nghia Lo Town located right in the central of the valley, we stopped for a rest in the middle of the rice field. All was quiet and it started getting cold. The wind was blowing stronger and the air was so fresh. All around Muong Lo Valley, the mountains were becoming more and more of a dark green color. The rice was recently transplanted and by looking at the colors of the rice plants, I could tell that the roots were starting to develop. The farmers here would get their bumper crop in the next 5 months...
Muong Lo Valley Yen Bai
Spectacular rice field at Muong Lo Valley, Yen Bai
Arriving at Nghia Lo, I asked the driver to make a circle around the town. Things didn't change much compared to my last trip here last year, no new hotels. It took us some five minutes to have a complete tour of Nghia Lo Town before arriving at our hotel, supposed to be the best one available. It's claimed to be a 3-star hotel, but it'd think it's a decent hotel of 1-star one. We were in the one of the most far-flung areas of the country anyway and the important thing was that it was clean. So it was good.
In the evening, Thanh and I went out for dinner and had a walk around the town. It was quiet and people seemed to go to bed early here. There were a couple of cafes with dim colorful light, but we decided to go back to the room and had an early night. The night passed by peacefully...
I woke up at 4 or 5 A.M by the noise from down the street. It was amazing that the sun woke up very early in this town so did the people. Back in Ha Noi it had to be dark still. But it made sense to me, they went to bed early and got up early...I tried to find back my sleep, but it had gone far away I thought, so I put on the shoes and had a walk around town. After a little while, I stopped at a local cafe which looked simple but spotless-clean cafe. The gentleman made beautiful hot black coffee and I thought it was even better than most in Ha Noi...Amazing!
Tu Le Rice Terraces
Breathtaking rice terraces at Tu Le, Yen Bai
When I went back to the hotel, Thanh was in the restaurant and was enjoying his coffee too. We got some time chatting about the program of the day and got back to the room for the check-out. Leaving the hotel at 09:00 A.M, we made our way to Tu Le, 50km from Nghia Lo Town and it took us 1 hour to get there. Tu Le is similar to Lao Chai and Ta Van of Sa Pa, except that the rice terraces are so beautiful that photographers from Ha Noi travel a few hundred kilometers to get here only to take photos of the rice terraces!
It was Thursday and I was getting funky again. The weather seemed to have changed last night with new rounds of monsoons which made temperatures drop and the air fresh. The breezes were so gentle and the air was dry. This kind of breezes is called “Heo May” in Vietnamese. Normally “Heo May” appears mostly in the time between autumn and winter in northern Vietnam. “Heo May” breezes make the air a bit chilly, dry and fresh; on a day of “Heo May”, the sun shines gently which makes us feel very comfortable. “Heo May” comes along with beautiful weather that has come into Vietnamese literature and poetry...



Rice field and Palm Forest near Doan Hung Phu Tho
Rice field and palm forest at Doan Hung Phu To

I felt so pleasant and called my buddy to see how things were going. He was ready. We went out for some coffee without being in a hurry. It'd be such a waste to be in a hurry on such a beautiful day. We started to get rolling out of the city in late morning, around 09:30 A.M or something. The air was fresh, so we turned down the car windows to let the fresh air in while leaving Ha Noi. It was a bit cooler as we were out of the city. The scene was just so beautiful with green rice paddies and dark blue mountains. The city seemed to be hugged by 2 ranges of mountains: one is called Ba Vi and the other is called Tam Dao, both are hill stations and home to amazing national parks. I'd write more about these two national parks at another time...


It was always exciting to travel again. We had been working on a special trip for 10 photographers who wanted to capture the most beautiful scenes of Vietnam. North-West of Vietnam was an indispensable part of the trip, but 6 photographers in the group had taken the North West of Vietnam with us already and they wanted something new, off-the-beaten track. Normally traveling in the North-West of Vietnam would mean to take the route via Road No. 6 via Hoa Binh Mai Chau, Son La – Dien Bien Phu and the from Dien Bien Phu – Lai Chau – SapaYen Bai – Ha Noi. So it was easy, we'd take a different North-West of Vietnam then, this time we'd focus more on the beauty of Yen Bai Province. I asked one of my buddies, Thanh, to come along on our inspection trip to Yen Bai. Thanh is an amateur photographer and he had got many adventures to the far-flung regions of the country. He was surely to know what would be best for a photographer.

22 May 2009 @ 10:00 am
Hanoi is the elegant capital city of Vietnam sprawling its way along the Red River banks. There are many lakes, parks and leafy quarters which make the city just freshly green all year round. Ha Noi was first built in 1010 by King Ly Thai To who checked and found out that Feng-shui here was exceptionally good for the prosperity of the kingdom that time; Ha Noi was called Thanh Long meaning "the city of ascending dragons" then. Ha Noi is among the top lists of destinations for those who long for Vietnam vacations.

vietnam tour

Hanoi's architecture is the blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and French. The city is known to the locals as three main areas: The Ancient Citadel Area (11th century) which was home to the Royal Family; The Old Quarter (Ancient Business Area) dated back from the 11th century was the business quarter of Old Hanoi; The Frech Quarter with French architure dated back from the 19th century were home to the French residents of Hanoi during their time here.

My family moved into Hanoi when I was 10 years old. The city was too overwhelmed for a boy who had been brought up amid wild and green mountains in the far-northern area of Vietnam. I had been more used to wild buffaloes plowing the green terraces than weaving chaotic traffic always full of mopeds and noise. Our new house was just by the airy and breezy West Lake which offered me a few free dips every summer morning. Every day, after school, I went to Bach Thao Park to seek new adventures with a few newly-made friends. My carefree childhood in Hanoi was full of fun and adventures.

Autumn in Ha Noi is like no others. It was here that autumn changed my life! I found myself waking up one morning caressed by the soothing breeze of fall with the news that I got admission to university! I ran for my bike and flew like a crazy boy down Thanh Nien Road to meet with other buddies for the coffee of celebration. That morning never fades out in my memory...

Seasons after seasons, I grew up with Ha Noi. The city seems to share the same rhythms with my heart and soul: be in when gathering with friends in the city parks; be it when mulling over my favorite hot coffee amid the old Town; be it the late nights I tumbled my way back home from the heavy Bia Hoi Stuff (draft beer).... ....

I'm about for an new adventure of life when my new project calls for my presence half of the country away from Ha Noi. Amazingly Ha Noi is heading into fall earlier than usual. I just wanted to take in as much as I could before leaving...Morning started with a walk in the chaotic Old Quarter watching traffic weaving through the smoke of my dear hot coffee as always. I suddenly didn't want to do anything, just liked to keep it this way forever. The sudden rain just set in and stopped, just like to bid farewell.

Leaving Ha Noi this time I'm sure I'll be away for a while. I'm off back to the mountains researching the new Vietnam holiday experiences. I'll help to bring all Vietnam travel experiences be it savoring the fine cuisine, be it getting lost in the culture; be it a hardcode biking adventure.... a complete one!
Current Location: Vietnam
02 April 2008 @ 05:23 pm
For the past decade, Vietnam has turned to be among the fastest growing economies in the World. The country has been known as one of the safest and the most friendly destinations in Asia. This is just the right time to travel to Vietnam: it saves you money most while it gets you the once-in-a-life-time experience. Now is the only time that every of your penny spent brings you the best values. Let's look further into the clarifications to know why.

vietnam tour
First of all, we all know that the US Dollar has lost a lot of its value compared to other national currencies recently. This makes all commodities and services priced in US Dollar much cheaper than before. Now you start know what I mean, folks! All travel and tourism services in Vietnam have been quoted in US Dollars for many years and this is not going to change anytime soon. This is just fantastic news for many non-US travelers as you get hefty discounts the moment your book your trip in Vietnam without the hassle of bargaining! And it's a pity since this is not good for those of you earning your income in US Dollar.

Look at the global business environment many analysts predict that the US Federal Reserve will have to hike the interest rate in 2009 which would probably mean the US Dollar is appreciating then. If you delay your tour until 2009, maybe the cost you have to spend for your Vietnam travel services wouldn't be so good anymore.

Secondly, the majority of the Western travelers in Vietnam have been from the United States. It may be not the case anymore as the US economy is not doing so well nowadays. Many folks in the US will have to tighten your travel expenses. This is not good news for us who are in travel industry and hospitality business in Vietnam, but it is good news for you, the non-US travelers! You have more choices now than ever!

Look back in 2006 and the first 3 quarters of 2007, there were huge hikes in accommodation rates, transport fees, tour costs..., since Vietnam started to boom. There was a surge in the number of Western travelers to Vietnam and the infrastructure for tourism in the country could not catch up to accommodate you all, hence price shooting the moon! Some folks were not that happy, I guess! You paid more and for what! Much less! We in the travel business in Vietnam had a difficult time arranging the right service for our travelers, too. We had to rely on our good relations and good credits gained among our partners in a number of years for help.

The good thing was that the hard time ushered in creativities. In 2006 and 2007, we had the most creative tour itineraries for our travelers. Many of the bright ideas did not originate in our office, but from you – the travelers and our dedicated tour guide team. Thank you all for your precious co-operations,  recommendations and bright ideas! We still have some now for more in the future...It's good that we have maintained the culture at our company: to provide the service quality defined by our clients! We listen to our fellow travelers!

Thirdly, Vietnam started to have full membership of the WTO  (the World Trade Organization) in January 2007, the decision was made in 2006 though. This means things started from 2006 in Vietnam. Many of you may ask then what the heck is that to do with my trip to Vietnam ? Wow, it does...it actually does, I'm sorry...The reason is that Vietnam is now open and is the playground for many global players. You go and check the map of South East Asia: Vietnam is smack in the center! It's location, location, location! Thanks to the location, the Vietnamese had to encounter so many troubles throughout the history! Get a history book on Vietnam, you'll see what I mean!

Traveling in the country, you can still see Vietnam OK...Eh, I mean as traditional as ever...But please know that there have been numerous massive projects infrastructure-related ones in Vietnam already, most run by multi-national corporations. Without the difficulties in the global economy now, Vietnam would have been changed overnight! Traveling in Vietnam would mean cranking your way amid skyscrapers and heavy traffic full of cars and smoke! I didn't mean that this scenario was totally not good! It would be nice for the Vietnamese generally as they would have better living quality. But I'm talking about you, the travelers...Would you like to see Vietnam as it is nowadays and come back to see Vietnam in the future or would you only like to see Vietnam in the future only?

The charming elegant Ha Noi, the tranquil beach of Nha Trang, Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, the fresh nature of Da Lat and Sa Pa...are all relatively intact and definitely worth a trip now. No one knows for how long they'll remain that way...Scared of sacrificing amenities? Luxury hotels and resorts are found at most locations now, transportation is as easy and comfortable as ever. The Vietnamese and those in the travel/hospitality business are as professional now as ever, and friendly....And importantly, Vietnam is not fully booked now! vacances au Vietnam
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